Re: Standard definition

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sun 27 Oct 2002 - 22:57:27 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: Standard definition"

    At 10:49 AM 25/10/02 -0700, you wrote:
    >Dawkins begins his definition of "meme" in "The Extended Phenotype"
    >with, "A unit of cultural inheritance". In recent discussions I have
    >assumed that that was a necessary part of any definition of "meme".
    >(That seems not to be the case for everyone, however. ;-))
    >I propose that "A unit of cultural inheritance" is also sufficient to
    >define a meme, and thus, is an acceptable standard definition.

    There are several alternative expressions which amount to the same thing. I usually use "replicating information pattern." And, of course, the culture does not have to be human. I have talked to Dawkins about this and he has no problem with it. As for a meme, the only part that is essential is the information. This is in close analogy to genetics were a listing on paper of base pairs for some protein is a gene.

    >We may argue about exactly what and what kind of thing such a unit is,
    >but I think that it is a good idea to separate the ontology debate from
    >the question of definition. We may agree upon a definition of "unicorn"
    >without agreeing about the ontology of unicorns.
    >BTW, Dawkins defines "gene" simply as "a unit of heredity". Short,
    >sweet, and sufficient. :-) No need to go into DNA, information, mutation
    >rate, or anything else. KISS (Keep it simple, sister).

    Yeah, but the mess he went through to get there was awesome. :-)

    Keith Henson

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